A ruby-throated hummingbird. Photo by Vickie Henderson.

By Vickie Henderson

The Ruby-throated hummingbird weighs only about 1/10th of an ounce, and has a brain approximately the size of a BB. Yet, hummingbirds are considered masters of navigation, timing and memory. Year after year, a male hummingbird may return to the exact same breeding territory and land on the same favored perches on the same calendar date each spring. Females will return to the same nest site, refurbish the nest, and use it for a number of successive years.

On August 24th, at the third annual Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival, Knoxville residents and visitors will have the opportunity to see Ruby-throated hummingbirds up-close at the banding table with Mark Armstrong, a certified Master Bander of both hummingbirds and songbird species. Hummingbirds will be harmlessly captured, weighed and measured, and banded before being sent on their way. At the demonstration, visitors can witness the delicate process of applying a numbered band to a hummer’s tiny leg so that its future migration movements can be tracked. Children, in particular, will enjoy this close-viewing opportunity.

The festival will treat visitors to renowned speakers on nature topics, wildlife educational demonstrations, guided walks and vendors selling food and drinks, plants, locally made arts and crafts, bird feeders and supplies, garden items, and a “Bargain Barn” selling new and gently used merchandise with nature themes.

This year’s festival includes expert speakers that will present programs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 pm. T. David Pitts, Professor of Biology, UT Martin will talk about “The Hummingbirds that Nest in your Yard”. Other speakers include Marcia Davis, Birdlife Columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel, David Unger, Professor of Biology, Maryville College, and Steve McGaffin,

The Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival will take place Saturday, August 24th from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and has an admission of $5.00. Children under six are admitted free. The festival is co-sponsored by the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society and Ijams Nature Center, and will be located at Ijams, 2915 Island Home Ave., Knoxville, TN 37920 (865-577-4717).

The Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society was organized in 1924 to promote the enjoyment, scientific study and conservation of birds. The organization meets on the 1st Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m., Room 118 in UT College of Veterinary Medicine.